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Restoration Audi 80 GTE: removing rust with a difference

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Restoration Audi 80 GTE
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'Originally I wanted to study art,' admits Jens Gauding. But then everything turned out differently. He was still a schoolboy when he succumbed to the charm of a freshly painted VW Beetle in memory of the earlier family car. According to him, this 'animal failure' proved to be formative. Drastic rust damage was hidden under the glossy layer of paint, and the fundamental question arose: Repair the car or write it off? But the young man from Beverungen in North Rhine-Westphalia was lucky to have an experienced motor vehicle mechanic as his uncle, and with his help he set about resuscitating the ailing Beetle.

After the Käfer and other VWs came the first Audi

This involuntary close contact with the car gave Jens so much pleasure that he reconsidered his future planning: he trained as a car mechanic and later studied mechanical engineering Focus on vehicle technology. When choosing his vehicles, he initially remained loyal to the Volkswagen brand. With an Audi 80 GL, which he got hold of during a practical semester at TÜV in Cologne, he moved to the Audi warehouse and at the same time entered the relevant club scene. A new car was soon on his wish list: an Audi 80 GTE in the original version, which even back then, in the 1990s, was one of the absolute rarities.

The regular look at the advertisements in the oldtimer magazines became routine, when suddenly an Audi 80 GTE was offered in nearby Hanover, Jens immediately set off. As expected, the offered object did not turn out to be a roar: the Audi, which had been repainted in red and black, was no longer completely complete, had many previous owners and had stood still for a long time. The engine was still cranking, the body showed drastic rust damage. 'But for 600 marks I got some rare parts,' Jens justifies the purchase.

At this point in time he was still studying. So he had little money and little time because the diploma semester had started. So he first brought the Audi 80 GTE, which was not ready to drive, home with a trailer and parked it in a former stable of an estate. Here he and a friend from sandpit days had set up a spacious hobby workshop.

The ailing Audi 80 GTE was accompanied by a good body

The Audi 80 GTE stood there untouched in the corner for more than a year, until by chance Jens came across an advertisement in which one nakedAudi 80 body was offered for sale. That sounded interesting. The seller had bought an Audi 80 GL, completely dismantled it and wanted to prepare the body for rally use. But the project failed, only hinted fender flares testified to the dream of the owner, who now sold all technical and sheet metal parts separately.

Jens didn't hesitate and grabbed it. The acquired body without fenders but with hoods and doors turned out to be exceptionally well preserved. Jens later found out that it was made just two days before his GTE body - he was planning to use it as a replacement body. However, he really wanted to keep the old chassis number of his Audi 80 GTE, which he succeeded. The rust problem was off the table in one fell swoop, and Jens finally started restoring his Audi 80 GTE.

He completely dismantled the Audi 80 GTE and then started working on the replacement body. Because the previous owner had bent open the wheel arches, he replaced them with repair sheets. Then he had to make the GL body GTE-compatible, i.e., take over some parts from the old GTE body. In detail, these were holders or mounts for the electric fuel pump in the area of ​​the tank as well as for the fuel filter, for the brake force regulator and in the engine compartment for the flow divider.

Miserable spare parts situation bothered the Audi restorer

He separated these parts and welded them to the Swap body. The Audi 80 GTE was painted red and black when it was bought, but the original paintwork was still present in the engine compartment: signal green. And that's exactly how Jens had the swap body painted. The GTE seller had also supplied a second set of seats, which were Recaro sports seats with black and white Pepita covers, which Jens liked better, even if they were not in good condition. But a saddler managed to recondition the stalls. It was only later that Jens noticed that these seats were part of the rally package for the 80 GT and therefore differ slightly from the GTE seats. But that can be coped with.

Now Jens set about completing the body of the Audi 80 GTE again - everything on his own. 'Things like assembling the headliner could take a week to a week and a half because you don't do these things every day,' remembers Jens. He installed the insulation material, the electrics, the interior and the 'overhauled chassis with new dome bearings, shock absorbers, wheel bearings and brakes. The engine and transmission were first installed in their original state, in the hope that both components would work, which then, to his delight.' The case was. Jens finally wanted to drive the car after the work had dragged on for years.

The reason for this was the miserable availability of spare parts for the rare oneAudi 80 GTE. He was constantly chasing after parts or had to improvise: The button with the Audi rings in the steering wheel comes from a DKW, the Audi rings with the chrome strip on the radiator grille are a modified version for the Audi 80 models with single headlights, the center silencer of the Exhaust is a modified part of the successor model, the decorative strips on the side were made by an advertising agency.

Epoxy resin lettering

Shortly before our photo session, Jens was able to catch a new front bumper at the VW Classic Parts Center. The lettering of the Audi 80 GTE has not been available for a long time and is in great demand. Jens borrowed the part from a club colleague and made impressions of it with silicone rubber. Then he poured the lettering in polyester resin, but the material became brittle and did not prove to be weatherproof. The second edition was therefore made in epoxy resin. The part is not made of aluminum like the original, but it was still a piece of jewelry.

Jens still has a lot of work to do. The engine of the Audi 80 GTE is running, but for visual reasons it won't stay that way. The hunt for parts like a tank or the door panels continues. Strictly speaking, Jens has become an artist who knows how to organize or reproduce parts.

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